Friday, January 19, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Grapples With Changes at Home and On the Job in 'Memory Lane'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 4.01 "Memory Lane"

Stabler must deal with rapid changes at work and home after returning from a dangerous undercover assignment. Bell hires an advisor whose AI technology program could revolutionize police investigation. Jet and Reyes struggle with Whelan's absence.

"Memory Lane" was written by John Shiban & Amy Berg and directed by Jon Cassar

Stabler immediately accepted an undercover assignment following the conclusion of the Shadowërk case. The task force was one of several agencies at the local, state, federal and international level involved in holding those criminals accountable. It was ultimately the most personal for Stabler's unit. Jamie was shot and killed. Over the course of just one year working together, the unit came to respect and rely on him. Everyone handled their grief differently. Not only did Stabler throw himself into the work, he did so completely on his own. He left the people who needed him the most and understood what he was going through. It's always easier for him to talk about the work instead of grappling with his personal emotions. So much is happening in his life though. He carries that entire burden. He doesn't have to do so on his own. That's how he has always operated though. Others are making mistakes as they venture through this grief too. None of it is particularly healthy. It's simply what they are doing to keep on living.

It's truly shocking when Reyes and Jet hook up. That was never an aspect of their dynamic previously. Sure, they played a couple when they went undercover. That occurs once more too. It's over-the-top as they infiltrate a luxury car shop to retrieve data. It's a lot of fun too. It still places Jet in danger. She's at risk of getting caught before transferring all the information. She knows her limits. She may be tempting fate. Things could have gone a lot worse. However, that only provides momentary danger. The audience should never feel too concerned about her well-being. She's exposed to fentanyl in the process though. That immediately presents with a headache. She requires treatment soon thereafter. It's presented as a straightforward recovery afterwards though. She explains that she feels like she's hungover. She is still capable of doing her job. That's the danger she has accepted as part of this work. She provides crucial information. The team needs her. And now, Reyes appears to need her in other ways. That's scandalous given he's married and has children. That means problems are going to develop at some point.

Meanwhile, Stabler is reluctant to embrace the implementation of artificial intelligence to improve police work. The algorithm may be fantastic. However, it's still ultimately dependent on the person inputting all of the data. That still holds the potential for existing biases to be amplified even with the intention of advanced technology erasing human error. Bell agreed to this pilot program because it brings new resources to the unit. She is always fighting for the NYPD to approve this unit's existence. The team was almost shut down last year. Big and frequent results are seemingly the only thing keeping this unit active. As such, Bell feels the constant pressure to deliver. She can't risk the lives of her detectives. She can't lose another one in the line of duty. She has to be objective. And yet, her detectives continue to jeopardize their personal health and safety to save lives. It's a noble cause. It's still dangerous when Reyes rushes in to save Stabler without wearing a hazmat suit. Everything works out this time. They are still tempting fate. That shows them as having little regard for their own lives. That's a dangerous quality.

Stabler beams with pride when he sees a press conference celebrating Captain Olivia Benson's latest success at SVU. That's a different perspective than she has on that particular victory as seen in the Season 25 premiere of that show. However, Stabler views Olivia as the perfection that keeps him honest and committed to the work. He's glad a difference is being made. Of course, his unit produced immediate and life-changing results too. It's stated how the majority of fentanyl deaths in the city can be traced back to this gang. Stabler and the team shut down the criminal operation. That's a massive victory. The impact will have far-reaching consequences that far too few will understand and celebrate. Meanwhile, Stabler comes home to Bernie in the latest setback in her memory. She has so many family members willing to take care of her. Stabler is home now. He isn't planning on abandoning her again. And yet, she calls out to Randall, Stabler's brother, during her latest moment of confusion. Stabler can only do so much. He has to acknowledge his limits. He can't provide all the support his mother needs. That's a devastating realization especially as Stabler's brother has never been a prominent discussion over the decades of the character's existence. That provides something new for Stabler to manage. It's not connected to the job. It's still just as crucial in deciphering his well-being. The viewer wants good things to happen for him despite the turmoil he's always in. He deserves that. He simply has to endure more pain to arrive at it.